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Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion Paperback – November 14, 2008
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"It's not often that I let out a whoop of joy when I read a book, but I did while reading Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion. I've been preaching this gospel for 15 years and it's great to see it so brilliantly argued and supported in these pages. The editors have assembled a top-flight team of scholars and writers to build the case brick by solid brick. It is now an unassailable truth: without an understanding of religion, a journalist can miss the greatest stories of our time. This is the book I -- and my students -- have been waiting for." --Professor Ari Goldman, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and author of The Search for God at Harvard
"Since press blindness is one reason for the declining circulations of standard newspapers and newsmagazines, Blind Spot should be required reading for journalists and journalism professors who hope to respond not only to technological changes but to cultural ones as well." --World
"This is an instructive book for practitioners. It is written by experienced analysts of religion who want reporters to deepen their knowledge of the subject... Blind Spot should make any religion reporter a more astute student of the journalistic craft." --Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
"A provocative mix of painstaking scholarly analysis with lively samples of news reporting. The writing is cohesive and accessible, engaging and--occasionally--entertaining, and it could prove an effective point of departure for classroom use at undergraduate and graduate student levels."--Religion
"...Blind Spot is instructive for anyone who seeks to understand the world that we inhabit. After all, many of us, no less than journalists, need reminding that the world does not operate according to the dictates of our personal conscience, and that people very different than us can and will often surprise us both with virtue and with vice. Religion has always and will continue to contribute mightily to both; understanding that is critical to being not just good journalists, but ethical teachers and informed human beings. In that sense, Blind Spot does a great service not just to those who write and read news, but to all who seek to live on a planet imbued with religiosity." --International Journal of Public Theology
About the Author
Paul Marshall is Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom. Lela Gilbert is a freelance writer and editor who has authored or co-authored more than sixty published books. Roberta Green Ahmanson is an award-winning journalist and co-author of Islam at the Crossroads.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Here is a collection of essays investigating the problem.
What is most puzzling about American journalists is not just their tone deafness to stories about religion. They actually seem unaware of religion's importance throughout the world. Explosive growth in Christianity in Africa and Asia is ignored. The vital differences in Muslim sects is rarely mentioned, let alone investigated.
In these essays, Marshall notes that "Americans have been educated to believe that democracy and secularization go hand in hand" (p 22) so that we have misreported, and misunderstood, news about religion that is vital politically.
Hertzke argues that "the mainstream press largely missed one of the great foreign policy and human rights surprises in recent decades" (p 65), that of the banding together of various religious groups to spotlight human rights abuses. And, shocker, the New York Times missed it entirely. It did, however, inform its readers about the activities of the enemy. Oops. I mean the activities of the Christian Coalition.
Vinson and Guth point out how badly all the chattering classes got religion in the 2004 election. "Stories...persistently pitted Bush's blind faith against Kerry's intellectual rationality with a clear assumption that religion and reason do not coexist" (p 91).
Amy Welborn reports on journalists and the Catholics. Every time a pope is mentioned, sure enough, there are those same dissenting Catholics, none of whom has stepped inside a church in decades.
Interesting essays. I just wish there were some good solutions. Thank God for the internet.
The headline for Mr. Carroll's review was "God Is A Problem, Sources Say", and launches with a statement made in an article in the New York Times in November regarding the attacks on Mumbai. The statement was excerpted in this way: "It is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen or if it was an accidental hostage scene." The Times also speculated that it was an "unlikely target" .........for Islam extremists?
Blind Spot discusses various conflicts throughout the world and the religious "blind spot" that seems to afflict most Western journalists. Editor Paul Marshall, as quoted by Mr. Carroll, said journalists reluctant to accept the "fundamentalist motives" of jihadist motives concentrate on "terrorist statements that might fit into secular Western preconceptions about oppression, economics, freedom and progress."
I read that statement, and I was reminded immediately of the Kosovo Liberation Army's attempt to destroy non-Muslim communities in the northern provinces when I was there in 1998, just as Israel today is using the issue with Hamas as a reason to destroy Palestine. Hamas is killing Israelis, and the U.S. - as a sovereign nation that used to be religiously tolerant - pushes to use the fundamentalist Christian God as a reason to infiltrate other conflicts, and so on.
Even in Africa, religion plays a part in conflict. Take, for instance, the Lord's Resistance Army who hacked and killed hundreds in a church and the surrounding area in DR Congo not more than a couple of weeks ago.Read more ›